Image Courtesy: Flickr user Darren Moloney
The season has begun!
We're not talking about springtime, although that came in last month with scattered showers and even a hint of some May flowers. We're not talking about sports, although there are various events and seasons going on there, too.
No, what we're talking about is that most important of seasons in southern California: that of the craft beer festival. It kicked off this year with the acclaimed Citybeat Festival of Beers, an afternoon fair that offered music and food as well as local beer that ranged from the mainstream to the obscure.
Starting May 1st, and continuing through the 3rd, Temecula is hosting its annual Southern California Homebrewers' Festival at Vail Lake. It ran into some problems last year because of legislative issues, but this year it's going strong and promises to be a fun time, so get yourself out to the campground and see what's brewing!
In June, the San Diego International Beer Festival will be held in tandem with the San Diego County Fair. Nearly 200 breweries from all over the world will be represented, and since knowledge is power, it's your moral imperative to go find out as much as you can about each one! It includes free fair admission, so have fun – and hold on to your hat.
That's just a brief entree into southern California's wonderful beer world. But you don't have to wait until the festivals to have fun – give us a call and book yourself a beer train or chauffeured tour. We'll pair your drinks with delicious meals and show you the best of San Diego.
It’s a great month in San Diego, because not only will we be getting a real spring this year, thanks to some serious rain we’ve been lacking for the past several years, but this is also the month that all the great beer events begin!
Here’s just a smattering of all the fun stuff going on in the first half of March alone.
March 7th: Best Coast Beer Fest. This one-day event, at Embarcadero Park South, is a fundraiser for a nonprofit group called Cancer for College. 100 percent of the proceeds goes to help put a cancer survivor through university. Also, it’s personally endorsed by Will Ferrell, who apparently sometimes shows up and just hangs out doing Ron Burgundy impersonations.
March 12th: Exotic ingredients Beer Tasting. First of all, you should get to the Museum of Man stat anyway, because their Beerology exhibit is a thing of beauty! This beer tasting, curated by the museum and featuring several local brewers, is a great reason to go see it. If you miss this tasting, don’t worry – there will be more. Many, many more.
March 14th: ShamROCK, also known as Saint Patrick’s Day in the Gaslamp. Oh, yeah! This holiday is a beer lover’s dream. Remember, though – you’re in no way obligated to drink green beer, just good beer.
March 15th: El Cajon Brewer’s Invitational. Feel like heading for the hills? El Cajon, which literally means “the boxed,” because of the hills that surround this warm valley, is having its first ever large-scale craft beer event. Just look at this lineup! It’s going to be incredible.
Brooke B., March Hare
Mardi Gras is almost here!
This is one of the best times of year to be a lover of food and drink. It’s related to Carnaval, which comes from the phrase “carne vale,” or “farewell to the flesh,” and in the Christian calendar is the time of feasting before the self-deprivation of Lent begins.
The Mardi Gras feasting and partying day is also known as Shrove Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday. Both days are known as “moveable feast” days, which got their name because their dates move throughout the year in relation to Easter Sunday, which is always held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox.
That’s a mouthful, so to speak. But we love moveable feasts so much that’s what we do! Every tour we take you on is a moveable feast, because there’s so much deliciously good food and drink in San Diego that we can’t limit you to just one place. That’s why we have our train tours as well as our walking and chauffeured tours. We can’t choose just one.
Best way to celebrate Mardi Gras? Book one of our February tours, and laissez les bon temps rouler! We’ll even find you a chicory coffee and a beignet to wash it all down, but you may have to bring your own beads if you want some lagniappe.
Happy Fat Tuesday!
Brooke B., Krewe member
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian feast day that is celebrated as a holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It's also a special day in America, and around the world, for members of the Irish Diaspora.
Oh, who are we kidding! It's one of the best days of the year for beer lovers. Especially since we now don't have to settle for green beer which, let's face it, isn't anywhere near as good coming up as it is going down. But now that San Diego is truly a full fledged mecca for beer lovers, with a strong population of Irish people and Irish-Americans to boot, Saint Patty's is way more than just a day to imbibe. It's a day to savor!
Instead of going green this year, why not go red? Red ales are among Ireland's best-known beers. They are absolutely delightful. San Diego has its share of red ales too, but with a regional twist – since we're known for our hoppy brews, the red ales you can get around here have their own distinct flavor without losing sight of their Irish roots. Kind of like a lot of San Diegans!
Green Flash produces Hop Head Red, crisp with a sweet caramelly twist, and the venerable Karl Strauss has its Red Trolley Ale. Mike Hess Brewing makes a hoppy, citrusy version of red ale called Venator, and Mission Brewery has a well-regarded Imperial Red on tap called Carrack. Phew, that's a lot of reds!
Of course, other than green beers, people think "dark" when they think of Irish beer, thanks to Guinness, an old favorite. But while Guinness is definitely always a crowd-pleaser, there are some really excellent local darks that hold up beautifully. San Diego isn't just about Double IPAs! Try Dawn Patrol Dark, a brown ale from Port Brewing, or the wonderfully-named Great Ape Nectar from Monkey Paw, a hazelnut chocolate milk stout with a finish that's as sweet as an Irish bread pudding.
We think this list will be a good way to start your day off right. To continue, book one of our Saint Patrick's Tours. We'll show you all the best craic in San Diego. And there's plenty to be had!
Enjoy yourself. Éirinn go Brách!
Brooke B., Cocktail Colleen
San Diego Restaurant Week is almost here!
It should go without saying that we love San Diego's food scene. We may be San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but tasting beer and wine without knowing what foods to pair them with takes at least half the joy out of the whole experience!
That's why we always offer food on our beer and wine tours. When you correctly pair, it brings out nuances and dimensions to your drink – and your food – that you never knew existed. It's like a voyage of discovery with every meal!
San Diego's craft beer scene has been extolled and admired as one of the best on the planet for years, and with good reason. Its wine scene is also gaining attention, too, as more people realize how wonderful it is. But the food scene here is one of the region's best-kept secrets.
We're committed to changing that, and that's why we're such huge supporters of San Diego's Restaurant Week. Everyone should get out during the week of January 18th through the 24th and check out the menus! Participating restaurants offer special, prix-fixe menus so that you can sample as many as you like without a big dent to your wallet. It's totally worth it to be able to explore!
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that as huge supporters of San Diego's food scene, we also organize food and drink tours that showcase some of the best, most scrumptious meals (and beers and vino too) that you can find anywhere.
So eat, drink, and be merry with us, because tomorrow… well, tomorrow there will be more of the same!
Here's to a delicious life,
Brooke B., Gastronomix
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
-William Butler Yeats
Happy Valentine's Day!
February is such a great month in San Diego. Not only is it when springtime begins around here, but it's also the month of love!
Valentine's Day is a tradition that's been going on for centuries – and probably millennia. The tradition of Valentine's Day is murky, but it's thought to come from a 5th century Roman fertility rite called Lupercalia. The rites were supposed to honor Faunus, the god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome who according to legend were raised by a she-wolf. The rites consisted of parties and sacrifices, but most importantly, wine.
Over time, it became much more about romantic love than agriculture. Much of the ancient festival has changed (although it could be argued that it's still a fertility rite) but we've held onto the wine, because wine is love… and let it never be said that we don't believe in love!
That's why we think the best thing you can do this Valentine's is head out to one of our winery tours; we recommend the Chauffeured Tour! If you're feeling more like a beer, we love bringing people along on our new Beer Trolley Tours. Don't worry, beer is love, too!
This February, come join us! It doesn't matter if you're with your sweetie, your best friend, or if you just want to be with us. We love having you and sharing Valentine's with you, and we know you'll love it too.
Here's to amore!
Brooke B., Vinamorata
Posted in Beer, Breweries, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Travel, Uncategorized, Valentine, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
Heading to the racetrack doesn't always have to be a summertime affair. This year is an unusual one, because for the first time since an unsuccessful one-year run in the 1960s, the autumn horseracing circuit will be at Del Mar instead of Hollywood Park, whose racetrack closed down for good at the end of last year.
You know what that means? We get to wear our big hats and party like it's summertime for the next few weeks. The Bing Crosby Season lasts from November 7th until the 30th, and it promises to be an exciting time, just like always!
But people don't just go to the races to watch the horses, although that's of course the main draw. The Del Mar racetrack is also home to great food and drink. There's something for everyone, whether you're looking for burgers and fries or a fresh Mediterranean buffet. Delicious!
But the real treats here are the drinks. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has some of the best mixed drinks you'll find anywhere in San Diego. And since November promises to be a warm month, it's a perfect time to come out with us and enjoy a cool and refreshing Del Mint Julep, or perhaps a Moet and Chandon Ice Imperial… delightful! But there are so many more.
Don't forget, too, that the exclusive Turf Club at Del Mar offers Sunday brunch created by Chef Brian Malarkey for the duration of Bing Crosby Season, paired with bottomless mimosas. Just don't forget there's a dress code!
We're off and running. See you at the races!
Brooke B., Thirsty Thoroughbred
It's the spookiest time of the year!
Halloween is on its way. Kids are donning costumes, scary movies are all over Netflix, and ghosts are wailing in the trees (or is it just the Santa Ana?).
But we haven't forgotten about that other celebration of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That's the Mexican celebration of the dead, where you can go to the graveyards and talk to your loved ones who have passed on.
We are so close to Mexico here in southern California that we would be remiss if we didn't mention Baja California's vibrant beer and wine scene. But you shouldn't have to cross any international borders to sample them, if you don't want to!
First up, let's talk about the craft beer scene, which in no way stops at the international border. We absolutely love Cucapa, which is out of Mexicali, and now is readily available in San Diego.
A pair of binational brothers, Ivan and Damien Morales, have a tiny but great brewery out of Tijuana called Cerveceria Insurgente (Insurgent Brewing or Revolutionary Brewing) that is currently collaborating with Stone for something that will be truly delicious.
And then there's Mexico's wineries, which are the among the oldest in the New World. Their wines are fruity and delicious, but sometimes a little minerally and salty – a byproduct of the soil in which the grapes grow. Whether or not that is your thing is a matter of taste, but it definitely sets Baja's wines apart from the rest!
We'll also be brewing up wine and beer tastings this weekend, so grab your favorite calavera pals and taste some cerveza and vino with us.
It'll be an eerily fun time!
Brooke B., Calaca
Today is National Red Wine Day! And what a glorious day it is. It's the day when we take a moment to sit back, take a sip, and really appreciate red wine. What, you say? That's every day? Well, read on for tips on how to appreciate it more!
First of all, wine is history in a glass. No matter what you drink, you're sipping on the sun, the sky, the soil, the climate, and the temperament of the place your wine was born. It contains the minerals that nurtured it, the light that warmed it, the chill of the starry nights that helped the grapes grow. In short, it embodies the character of a place like nothing else you could eat or drink, and in the most delightful and delicious way possible.
And while people have been fermenting beverages throughout human history, red wine has a special place in history. Egyptians associated it with blood and therefore considered it sacred. Europeans loved red wine so much that explorers brought and planted their own grapes wherever they landed.
This is not to say that white wine, or orange wine, or green wine, or rosé are not glorious things to taste as well. We just think that red wine deserves an appropriately reverent attitude today, and really, every day. That's why we have our wine tours, so you, too, can enjoy the complexities of California's history and delicious climate in every glass.
Brooke B., Oenophile
Posted in bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Halloween is coming, don your masks and grab your bags and get ready for some old-fashioned trick-or-treating! Did you know the history of Halloween in the United States is also wrapped up in its long tradition of great beer.
In 1620 the Pilgrims had been at sea for nearly two months and were off-course by the time they sighted land. While they had set a course for the Virginia colony they ended up in New England, and they had a problem—they were running out of beer. This was no small matter—water aboard ship was likely to become brackish and potentially deadly, while beer remained drinkable.
When the first pilgrims settled in the vast sweeps of New England, there were pumpkins everywhere. Green pumpkins, blue pumpkins, yellow and pink, and mottled ones littered the ground along with the traditional orange. Their proliferation guaranteed that the thirsty settlers would use the sweet squash, first called "pompions," to make the first pumpkin beers.
Pumpkin brews proliferate in San Diego this Halloween. There’s Green Flash Fire Roasted Pumpkin Ale, Ballast Point Pumpkin at Sea, and Coronado Brewing Punk'in Drublic, not to mention many other great locally made pumpkin brews. This Halloween try some of these delicious holiday beers a on San Diego Brewery Tour with San Diego Beer and Wine Tours.
Shira Bliss, Boo-zer